Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Range of a Poet's Focus

Some poets' eyes are trained on their community, city, state, on their life experiences on a farm, in the northwoods or their respective family experiences, and, as such, those poets are often tagged as a poet of their city, state or region. While I probably secretly wish that I could hang a hook on one of the above, it appears that I simply cannot do so.

As I noted in the preface to my book, The Silent Tango of Dreams, a realization that I have developed over the course of my adult life is that there is no geographic place that I can boast of as my home. Rather, I have come to realize, much like the peripatetic writer, Pico Ayer, that I am really a person of the world, not of any one town, village, city or nation. I have learned that my home is in my heart where my love and the love of others toward me resides, and that, on the scale of things, is what is really important and dear to me. Given my what might be termed my nomadic existence as a child living in different parts of the United States, my subsequent foreign language studies, Peace Corps experiences in Chile, marriage to a woman from the Caribbean, and my numerous travels and stints living abroad, I cannot help but to have an international perspective and respect for other cultures.

I believe that my poems collectively represent, to a large extent, this condition of mine, one that I proudly embrace like a global nationhood in this often confusing though fascinating world of ours. The world has offered me what I regard as an international citizenship, one that my poems fondly embrace.

—Stephen Anderson


Charles Bukowski was a hero during the anti-establishment era of the 60’s; a time when boozing, drugs and abusive rhetoric were mythologized and sanctified. Anything or anyone against the status quo and the pursuit of wealth was despised. How society has changed!

    “Drink, write and fuck” defined life for Bukowski. He hated rules and regulations, was appalled by Disney and Mickey Mouse for not having souls. He claimed to dislike the human race and considered most people and talk, boring. Freud would have a field day!

   His poetic style was without metaphor, directly self-referral and autobiographical. But, the violence he reports must have been imagined since I suspect he never had the skill or courage or else was too drunk to punch anyone.

   He did have the jealous gall to rail against the “greats”. He preferred to see them suffer: “I like to read about Joyce blind and prowling……G. B. Shaw ….a bore”*

   Stephen Holden called him a “cantankerous misanthrope and professional low life”** who wanted to piss on his competitors. Donald Hall named him a “bogus proletarian”.

         playing it out    

 I keep trying these

 drunk poems

 sitting on this chair

 smoking too many…..

 not understanding anything

 and finally

 not wanting to.

   How shall I fit him into a category of drink and poetry? Is the answer to open a bottle of the cheapest Italian red wine and let it stand in my view as I read and compose?

*The Last Generation, C.B.
**Poetry Foundation Biography